It’s not necessarily playing the same team twice within the span of four days, but Juventus’ opponents in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals are very much somebody they’ve seen very recently.
Instead of a couple of days, this time around it’s a couple of weeks.
And in those couple of weeks, things have not gotten any better for Juventus’ group of young loanees as the rest of the Frosinone squad.
A Frosinone rolls into Turin for the first time in 2024, the squad that Juve supporters have been following quite closely have certainly fallen on hard times. Maybe not the kind of hard times that Dusty Rhodes loved to talk about during his world-famous promo, but something that involves struggling to have much of anything go your way over the last six weeks, daddy. It has resulted in a team that was flying pretty high after beginning their return to Serie A all of a few months ago to now being just outside of the relegation zone with still half of the 2023-24 season still to play.
Frosinone’s upset win over Napoli in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 has proven to be one of the few results that have gone Eusebio Di Francesco’s way over the last six weeks. That win over Napoli in the last round of the Coppa Italia is the only victory Frosinone has recorded in its last seven games. They’ve not only see the goal scoring record slow down, but they’re leaking goals at an even quicker rate than they were at the beginning of the season.
Of course, where you sit in the standings only means so much when it comes to the Coppa Italia — especially in this stage of the game when you’re just 90 or so minutes from a two-legged semifinal tie. Max Allegri knows this and that’s why he is very quick to mention that this one-off tie is very much the kind of thing that can throw you a curveball or two if you’re not ready for it right away.
Regardless of form, regardless of table position, the very next sentence is 100% the truth: Juventus are at home, Juventus are the favorite and Juventus not getting to the semifinals of the Coppa Italia — where Lazio awaits after beating city rival Roma on Wednesday night — will be a huge, huge letdown.
The good thing about all of that is the simple fact that Juve have been just about as good as anybody at home so far this season. That’s not just because they’re coming off a 6-1 win in their last home game, but it most definitely helps. And with the Allianz Stadium expected to be full once again Thursday night, the odds are very much in Juve’s favor when it comes to being the team that faces Lazio in the semifinals.
Just like over the weekend against Salernitana, Allegri’s squad will certainly be shorthanded due to injuries and suspensions. That’s becoming more and more of a thing as we start the early 2024 slate of games, and who knows what the injury and absentee list will look like in a couple of games. (Or, you know, next week when Juve host Sassuolo and there are multiple players suspended for something other than off-field issues.)
No matter who’s available, though, this opportunity to get to the Coppa Italia semifinals couldn’t have fallen better for Allegri’s squad. Not only are Frosinone going through a completely brutal run of form, but they’re also a completely different team away from home as compared to when they play at the Benito Stripe. Sure, their last two Coppa Italia wins over Torino (in extra time) and Napoli have come away from home, but they have yet to record a league win on the road this season.
Allegri’s hope, no matter how much he tries to downplay the form Frosinone are currently in, is that the tough run of form rolls on. And if it does, Juve will be planning on a couple of more meetings with old buddy Maurizio Sarri because of it.
- Paul Pogba and Nicolo Fagioli — still suspended.
- Mattia De Sciglio and Moise Kean — still out injured.
- Federico Chiesa and Adrien Rabiot will also miss out on Thursday’s game due to their respective ailments. Both have trained away from the group so far this week.
- Andrea Cambiaso has recovered from the flu. but Allegri said the Italian fullback/wingback is unlikely to be in the starting lineup.
- Same goes for Samuel Iling-Junior, who also trained away from the group on Tuesday after picking up a slight calf injury coming out of the win over Salernitana over the weekend.
- Dusan Vlahovic, while himself coming down with the flu and missing training on Tuesday, is still expected to be available against Frosinone, according to Allegri.
- Allegri said that his only starting lineup decision in defense is between Danilo and Daniele Rugani.
- This will be Max Allegri’s 400th game as manager at Juventus. That’s a lot of games.
JUVENTUS PLAYER TO WATCH
Considering the fact that Max Allegri has limited options at the wingback spots, it’s pretty easy to figure out who is going to play out wide when Juve take the field against Frosinone.
And it’s not like that’s going to make a lot of people happy.
Seeing Filip Kostic in the starting lineup is something that makes a lot of people grumpy these days. His season, has been one that probably says one things when it comes to the statistics but then another thing when it comes to the eye test. That’s the weird thing about some Juve players — things may not seem as good as they look, or maybe it’s the opposite when it comes down to it.
For Kostic, though, it’s pretty much the same case as it was earlier this season — some advanced metrics (assists per 90, expected assists per 90, others) say he’s having a pretty solid season, while the eye test is very much not saying that he’s the same player at this point a year ago.
So which one is it?
Do we nerd it up and follow the numbers? Or do we go with the old-fashioned eye test like we do so many times before?
It’s hard to say. But, at this point, Juventus are in the kind of situation both in this game and going forward that an improved Kostic would be quite the welcome sight. With Dusan Vlahovic playing much better over the last month or so and Kenan Yildiz essentially forcing the issue when it comes to his inclusion in the starting lineup, adding another attacking threat like Kostic to the equation and there’s more action being created in the attacking third of the field.
I get it. He’s a volume crosser and that is always going to be his No. 1 play. But when that isn’t really working all that well, you have the kind of performances that he’s put forward this season. Who knows what it will take to get things straightened — not just the crosses — but maybe a little pressure from Samuel Iling-Junior will be the thing that kicks Kostic into gear.
When: Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.
Where: Allianz Stadium, Turin, Italy.
Official kickoff time: 9 p.m. in Italy and the Central European time zone, 8 p.m. in the United Kingdom, 3 p.m. Eastern time, 12 p.m. Pacific time.
HOW TO WATCH
Television: CBS Spors Golazo (United States); Viaplay Sports 1 (United Kingdom); Canale 5 (Italy).
Online/Streaming: Paramount+ (United States); fuboTV Canada (Canada); Viaplay UK (United Kingdom); Mediaset Infinity (Italy).
Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven’t already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.